Bariatric surgery is a highly cost-effective way to lose life-changing amounts of weight – but the NHS rarely removes the excess skin that is left behind. Desperate patients are now crowdfunding their operations while struggling with anxiety, depression and identity issues
When Haze Atkin passed the 32kg (5st) mark on her weight-loss programme, something strange began happening to her skin. First it grew softer. Then it grew emptier. By the time she had shed her 64th kilo, her body had shrunk so much that her loose skin needed to be folded into her clothes. Now, when Haze sits, a “hovercraft” of skin skirts her seat. When she takes a bath, her spare skin floats. In bed, her husband Chris accidentally rests an elbow on it; he can’t always be sure where Haze ends. The edges of her have become mistakable.
To her children’s delight, Haze can wobble her skin and make it talk like a puppet. Sometimes her daughter holds out her hands like a set of scales and Haze places her stomach skin on them. She thinks it weighs a stone. It has become oddly plastic, so that Haze can gather it in her hands and stretch and shake it, fold and mould it. But the one thing she can never do with her skin is forget it.